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IBM Research

IBM Makes its Presence Felt

IBM Haifa Labs News Center

July 05, 2007

Last week, IBM hosted the fifth IBM Business Leadership Forum in St. Petersburg. This event brought together more than 500 global leaders of business, government, higher education, and technology to discuss which innovations are needed to achieve true global integration.

Aside from a number of fascinating discussions into the changes that are coming up in society, enterprise, government, and our lives in general, IBM gave invited guests a sneak preview of four top innovations emerging from IBM. Sima Nadler, leader of telecom activities at the IBM Haifa Research Lab, attended the event to demonstrate cutting edge presence technologies that are being developed in IBM Research Labs.

"The entire field of presence technologies is changing our perspective on how people will interact with each other and with their environment in the future," noted Nadler. "It's clear that presence will greatly influence our lives in the years to come."

Most of us are familiar with basic presence technologies that help us see who's online for instant messaging applications. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Presence is rapidly becoming the cornerstone of many new services and applications that make our lives easier by being aware of where we are and whether we're busy.

Nadler's demo showcased three IBM Research projects, PASTA, Presence Zones, and BusinessFinder, demonstrating some of the innovative work being done by IBM in this area. PASTA and Presence Zones collect important information on users' trends, habits, and location context, thereby enabling service providers to offer innovative location-based services. BusinessFinder helps consumers find business services that are both available and within a close geographical proximity. For example, to find the closest service station that is open for business, BusinessFinder provides a list of options by combining information available from PASTA and Presence Zones, while incorporating various contextual attributes such as availability, customer rating, workload, costs, and so on.

In the demo, an electrician registers to the BusinessFinder directory and Presence Zones, thereby enabling his presence information, profile, and preferences to become available in the network. Meanwhile at the IBM booth, Nadler begins searching for an available electrician. The technology displays a map of St. Petersburg and then displays via SMS to a mobile device a message showing which electricians are available. Nadler chooses an electrician, and an appointment is automatically made for him to come to the IBM booth. Because the IBM presence technologies 'know' the location of the electrician, communication is customized to accommodate his whereabouts. When the electrician is on his way to the IBM booth, he is free to receive calls on his mobile phone. Once he is inside the IBM booth, the system only allows SMS messages to come through so he can concentrate on his work. Once several people approach the booth, his access mode changes to complete silence so he will not disturb the meeting taking place and his calls are forwarded to his secretary. And of course, all this is handled completely automatically, without anyone lifting a finger.

This demo garnered a lot of interest both at the recent IBM Business Leadership Forum, as well as at 3GSM, ITU, CTIA, and Nokia. The technology is not yet in production and currently is undergoing fine tuning by IBM researchers.

Nadler feels that technologies such as these will bring about more pleasant interaction between people. "The use of mobile devices in public places will become more considerate of other people since communication etiquette management will become automated based on the user's and the location owner's preferences" she explained. "The new technologies will automatically choose the means and mode of communication (voice or text) based on the type of location, without us having to manually change the phone's profiles." Other extended scenarios include sending personalized discount coupons to shoppers while they are in a store or sending updated airline information to people who are waiting for flights at the airport. The possibilities are exciting, innovative, and endless for a global society that is constantly on the move.


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